Truth Hurts breezes for Heavenly Prize; Champagne Poetry targets Busher Invitational

OZONE PARK, NY – Truth Hurtstrained and co-owned by Chad Summers with J Stables, breezed a half-mile in 51.25 Thursday over the Belmont dirt training track in preparation for a start in the $125,000 Heavenly Prize Invitational, a one-turn mile for older fillies and mares on March 5 at Aqueduct.

“I liked how she looked, and she came home really good,” said Summers of the mare’s first breeze back since finishing fourth in the Mrs. Claus on December 28 at Parx. “We gave her a 30-day break after the Mrs. Claus and we’re looking at the Heavenly Prize on March 5. We’ll have to work her a couple more times.”

The 5-year-old graded stakes placed daughter of Tonalist enjoyed a solid 2021 campaign, posting a record of 9-2-1-1 for purse earnings of $195,100 led by stakes scores at Belmont in the Pumpkin Pie and off-the-turf Perfect Sting.

Bred in Ontario by William D. Graham, Truth Hurts tested deeper waters over the summer at Saratoga, finishing fourth in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss Handicap and sixth in the Grade 1 Ballerina Handicap. She earned graded black type with a third-place finish in the Grade 3 Go for Wand Handicap in December at the Big A.

Summers said Truth Hurts will use the Heavenly Prize as a springboard to the seven-furlong Grade 3, $150,000 Distaff Handicap on April 9 at the Big A.

“She’ll be 70-80 percent for the Heavenly Prize, but it will be a good starting point for the year and let her race herself into shape with the seven-eighths race on Wood Memorial Day as the first major target,” Summers said. “The old saying is that they’re at their best at 5-years-old. She’s been a wonderful horse to have in the barn and this will be her last year. We’ll sell her in November, so we’ll try and enjoy the year.”

Jonathan Hardoon’s Champagne Poetrya sophomore daughter of Carpe Diem, missed by a nose to Shotgun Hottie in Sunday’s seven-furlong $100,000 Ruthless at the Big A.

“What was cool is on the gallop out they could have had a photo finish at a mile and a mile and a sixteenth – they were inseparable on the gallop out,” Summers said. “We know Shotgun Hottie will stretch out and it gives us confidence that our filly wasn’t tired – it wasn’t like we got beat on the wire because she was backing up. We got beat on the wire in a good horse race.”

Champagne Poetry will target the one-turn mile $250,000 Busher Invitational on March 5, offering 50-20-10-5 Kentucky Oaks qualifying points to the top-four finishers with the Cincinnati Trophy [10-4-2-1 Oaks qualifier] on the same day at Turfway Park as a backup plan.

Summers said Champagne Poetry, a neck maiden winner on January 13 at the Big A, will breeze with blinkers on with an eye to an equipment change for the Busher Invitational.

“We’ll put a small cheater blinker on her for the next workout,” Summers said. “She’s done this twice now at Aqueduct where she kind of gets lost on the turn for home and loses her way for an eighth of a mile and then she’ll switch her lead and pop in and re-engage and fight to the wire. ”

The $20,000 Fasig-Tipton Midlantic Eastern Fall Yearling Sale purchase is out of the Colonel John mare CJ Oz, who is a half-sister to multiple graded stake winner Madefromlucky. Champagne Poetry’s third dam, Tap Your Heels, produced Grade 1-winner and author stallion, Tapit.

“She’s a direct descendant of Tapit. The staying power is there,” Summers said. “She just needs to learn to relax a little more in the morning time. She likes to train and maybe a little too much. We have a pony specifically for her to try and get her to settle a bit, because she just wants to go.”

Gold Square’s graded stakes placed Wendell Fong worked three-eighths in 36.20 Thursday over the Belmont dirt training track.

The 6-year-old son of Flat Out was fractious at the gate last out in the six-furlong Gravesend on December 19 at Aqueduct, ending a distant third time off the bench in a race won by Chateau. He entered the Gravesend from an even fourth in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap on November 28 at the Big A.

“He’s been an enigma and I feel that I haven’t gotten the best of him,” Summers said. “It’s one of those things where they get older and [you wonder] if they’re still into it or not. We were expecting after the race in the Fall Highweight he would take a step forward.”

Summers said Wendell Fong displaced his palate in the Gravesend and will use a new bit when he returns to action in a six-furlong allowance sprint on Wednesday at Parx, which may be a steppingstone to the six-furlong Grade 3 Tom Fool Handicap on March 5 at Aqueduct.

“We want to give him a little confidence booster. Could we wheel back in the Tom Fool after that –,” absolutely Summers said. “The race on Wednesday will tell us a lot – can we move forward or is he a step behind where he once was.”

The Kentucky-bred won the Fire Plug last January at Parx ahead of a closing second to Chateau in last year’s Grade 3 Tom Fool.

Wild Bankera 5-year-old New York-bred son of Central Banker owned by Michael Dini and Al Moorhouse, is enjoying a brief freshening following off-the-board efforts at Aqueduct in the NYSSS Thunder Rumble on December 5 and Alex M. Robb on December 31.

Wild Banker, who split time between Dini and Summers last season, enjoyed a productive 2021 campaign, posting a record of 10-4-2-1 for purse earnings of $213,825.

“He had a long campaign. We sent him down to Pleasant Acres Farm in Ocala enjoying some turnout,” Summer said. “We’ll bring him back next year. Mike Dini will get him ready in Tampa and we’ll see if he comes to New York or goes to Monmouth with Mike.”

Wild Banker closed to finish second in the Empire Classic in October, finishing 11 3/4-lengths behind Americanrevolution, who went on to win the Grade 1 Cigar Mile presented by NYRA Bets.

“He’s a cool horse and I was happy he won that photo for second in the Empire Classic behind the beast that is Americanrevolution,” Summers said.

NYRA Press Release
Photo: Under Irad Ortiz, Jr., Truth Hurts was the victor in the Pumpkin Pie at Belmont Oct. 31, 2021. (Susie Raisher)

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